So what does the future hold for the U.S. Air Force?

In the past few years, the service has seen unprecedented change —from the end of combat operations in Afghanistan after 20 years, to forward deployments to Eastern Europe in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine; from the rise in uncrewed aerial vehicles to the testing of hypersonic missiles; and from the introduction of the F-35 Lightning II to the impending roll out of the B-21 Raider bomber.

U.S. Air Force’s F-22 Raptor has arrived to the 32nd Tactical Air Base, Lask, Poland, to support NATO Air Shielding.The aircraft are from the 90th Fighter Squadron, 3rd Wing, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, and will be supporting Air Shielding as the 90th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron. (Air Force photograph by Staff Sgt. Danielle Sukhlall)

In a sign of looking back and reaching forward, the new hypersonic missiles are being tested using the B-52 Stratofortress bomber; an aircraft that made its first flight on April 15, 1952, and entered service in 1955!

So what does the future hold for the greatest Air Force in the world?

The service is currently testing Skyborg Vanguard — a system that allows uncrewed aerial vehicles to operate in tandem; the Air Force is also test flying the F-15EX Eagle II — bringing next-generation combat technology to a highly successful fighter airframe, capable of projecting power across multiple domains for the Joint Force; and the service is exploring the future of artificial intelligence within aircraft and weapons systems.

“I truly believe we have the greatest Airmen and best defense and tech industry in the world,” said Gen. CQ Brown Jr., chief of staff of the Air Force. “Together we must work to accomplish what seems impossible. We must rise to the challenges of today to prepare for tomorrow.”

A B-52H Stratofortress undergoes pre-flight procedures at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., before conducting a flight test of the AGM-183A. (Air Force photograph by Giancarlo Casem)
An MQ-9 Reaper flies a training mission over the Nevada Test and Training Range, July 15, 2019. MQ-9 aircrew provide dominant, persistent attack and reconnaissance for comabtant commanders and coalition partners across the globe. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class William Rio Rosado)
Artist rendering of a B-21 Raider concept in a hangar at Dyess, Air Force Base, Texas, one of the future bases to host the new airframe. (Courtesy photo by Northrop Grumman)


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